In the age of twitter Donald Trump can own a news cycle with a few taps on his unsecured android phone. Unfortunately twitter has become a favorite mode of communication for the Trump administration and it’s pretty clear that Trump uses it as a tool to bend news cycles and minimize negative coverage. Now he is using his twitter fingers to try and marginalize progressive activists who are showing up en masse to Republican town hall events, demanding answers from their congressional representation regarding Obamacare and other key issues.
Almost as soon as these high publicity town hall meetings started the right wing propaganda mill began doing what it could to downplay their potential impact. More reasonable voices tried to paint angry anti-Trump constituents as angry Democrats who are still bitter about an unexpected loss. People like Sean Hannity or those on the fringes such as Alex Jones did what they could to tie protesters to people like George Soros.
Soros has long been a punching bag in the same vein as Saul Alinsky. For certain conservatives they are household names thanks to years of fear mongering. For most people, especially the rank and file of the Democratic Party, they are names they might have heard once or twice in passing. Yet the right wing noise machine has pretty successfully tied left wing activists riding a surge of anti-Trump anger to some of the most despised figures large swaths of their viewers, readers, and listeners can imagine.
Republican congressman have followed suite, most notably when Utah’s Jason Chaffetz claimed some of the angry constituents at his town hall were bussed in paid protestors from cities as far away as Phoenix.
More recently Mitch McConnell was met with a fiery response that quickly went viral. A constituent stood up and called out McConnell for pushing forward cuts in the Affordable Care Act that would leave thousands of poor coal miners looking for coverage. A very important constituency in Kentucky for both Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.
Across the country progressives are organizing to make a strong showing at Republican town halls in both swing and solid Republican districts. Both Jason Chaffetz and Mitch McConnell’s town halls prove the power of local activists creating a viral moment. It can shift news cycles, force Donald Trump to tweet, and cause conservative commentators to undermine angry constituents at every turn.
Donald Trump’s tweets regarding “paid activists” is just one small part of a broader plan to discredit protests and delegitimize the Anti-Trump sentiment that creates them. Time and time again since inauguration protests have sparked in cities around the country. From the woman’s march to protests around the botched travel ban, activists have flooded the street and showed the world Donald Trump’s policies will not be taken lightly.
The push back the opposition will face should not be taken lightly either. Donald Trump has the power to shift global news cycles with 140 characters. His supporters favorite talking head has a clear motivation to discredit protesters and herald Donald Trump a success. It’s up to activists themselves to organize with a fervor that cannot be ignored.
That’s exactly what the Tea Party did and it’s what the left needs to do if they want to be an effective opposition to Donald Trump. Only sustained efforts by voters can pressure congressional delegations to change opinions. Fortunately though time and time again pressure from voters has proved enough to force even the most corporate, party-line politicians to rethink their positions.
Showing up at a congressional town hall event is the first step to a successful opposition. Showing the world that anti-Trump protests are here to stay is incredibly important, but showing your members of congress that they can’t push sign off on whatever Trump puts forth is even more important. And showing up at their town hall events, loud, proud, and in their face, is the best way to do just that.